EPICUR Research kicked-off in early 2021! Funded in the framework of Horizon 2020 in the programme line “Science with and for Society” [SwafS], EPICUR Research will develop a common research agenda for all partner universities to improve and strengthen the interaction between science and society. EPICUR Research will also empower Early Career Researchers (ECR´s) by initiating bottom-up collaborative processes and building new EPICUR networks for researchers in all their career stages, thereby forming a new kind of research community that crosses over disciplinary borders and opens universities to their communities.

Challenge-based Research

EPICUR aims to develop solutions to societal problems that incorporate the expertise and knowledge of individuals and institutions from diverse sectors of society. Convinced that international collaboration fosters scientific and societal progress, EPICUR is developing a joint research agenda with an inter- and transdisciplinary approach to tackle pressing research questions, so-called EPIChallenges. Inspired by the “Six Transformations to achieve the SDGs” as well as by the Green Deal, “Missions of Horizon Europe”, and the EU Skills Agenda, EPICUR has set three EPIChallenges to start with: Sustainability research (including Climate Change and Energy); Mobility, Migration & Identity; Transition of Public Health. It is the hope of EPICUR-Research that by offering these spaces, the alliance invites young researchers to explore new collaborations that bring together the diversity of expertise and perspectives required to face the challenges posed by such global phenomena as climate change, pandemics, and forced migration.

Inter- and transdisciplinary Research

There is a multitude of definitions regarding both interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research, which at the core all describe the need to integrate not merely diverse data and information but also to reflect and combine methodology, tools, research approaches, techniques and theories from divergent disciplines. And eventually, reach beyond the walls of universities themselves to involve non-university partners and include even more diverse sources such as indigenous or practical knowledge. For EPICUR, interdisciplinarity is conceived as the collaboration between researchers from different academic disciplines, whereas transdisciplinarity is the collaboration between academics and partners from other sectors of society, such as civil society and governmental organisations, industry and business. EPICUR will build on and help implement the ideas and concepts developed by SHAPE-ID, an EU-funded project addressing the challenge of improving inter- and transdisciplinary cooperation between the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (AHSS) and other Sciences, particularly Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

Focus on Early Career Researchers

EPICUR research and innovation formats address Early Career Researchers (ECRs) as the alliance considers them the new generation of European research leaders and therefore instrumental in driving institutional transformation. To achieve this, Early Career Researchers need new and more opportunities to acquire the skills enabling them to advance their academic careers under new conditions and with increasing speed. EPICUR trusts in the ability of Early Career Researchers to lead the charge and thus involves them in the conceptualization of its formats from the start. In addition, EPICUR is committed to integrate Early Career Researchers into its decision-making structures and governing bodies. By doing so, EPICUR hopes to establish a different academic culture that is shaped by and for the needs of researchers in all career stages, taking into account the particular challenges of scholars with families, women and researchers hailing from diverse (e.g. non-academic) backgrounds who continue to be underrepresented in European academia.
EPICUR seeks to establish collaboration between groups of EPICUR partners and external stakeholders from surrounding regions, including civil society organisations, governmental organizations and industry by designing and implementing two innovative research collaboration formats.

Create an EPICommunity

The EPICommunity is aimed at providing Early Career Researchers with new tools catering to their autonomy and visibility by recognizing relevant skill sets and allowing for networking, via a new database as well as by facilitating blended mobility opportunities.
Early Career Researchers are invited to co-create a prototype for a European social network of researchers to support their matchmaking and collaboration and based on an attractive gamification design that reshapes the assessment of researchers.More information to follow soon.

Building EPIClusters – Developing Excellent Research Responding to EPIChallenges

EPIClusters are experimental research formats aimed at facilitating collaboration of academics with societal and industrial stakeholders for research and innovation. EPIClusters will inspire sharing infrastructures and resources (laboratories, archives, data bases, libraries etc.) between EPICUR partners and external partners in order to create scalable good practices of joint research and innovation.

Network-to-network collaboration

As proud member of the first cohort of European Universities alliances, EPICUR will build intelligent connections to other peer Europeans Universities Alliances in EPIConnect, to facilitate the preparation of joint policy recommendations for shaping the Universities of the Future.
More information to follow soon.

The Future of EPICUR Research: Emerging Research Collaboration

The EPICUR alliance seeks to compliment the development of a common research agenda with a bottom-up process that engages Early Career Researchers in leadership driving innovation in research and methodology. This signifies its commitment to foster and support emerging research as well as ignite institutional changes that help empower Early Career Researchers.

At the end of this bottom-up process, which we will develop and test in the pilot phase of EPICUR Research, there will be two so-called EPIClusters, initiatives with the potential to produce innovation and excellence in research. The themes and participants of the two EPIClusters will be identified and promoted in the course of an iterative bottom-up process. As EPICUR seeks to empower Early Career Researchers rather than pin them against each other, the process although necessarily selective/competitive in its final stages (the selection of EPIClusters) aims to be as inclusive as possible from the start. EPICUR is committed to diversity, as we believe it to be the only basis for true excellence and we believe that advancing Early Career Researchers of all disciplines and backgrounds will make Europe’s collective academia smarter and more competitive in the global market.

Therefore, participating in the journey from EPICamps to EPIClusters will be beneficial to Early Career Researchers whether they win a bid for an EPICluster in this first round or not.

Building the EPICUR network of Early Career Researchers from which these research collaborations will emerge, EPICUR Research will offer many workshops and networking opportunities along the way that are open to young scholars from all disciplines and will aid their career development by:

  • expanding their skills in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research,
  • introducing them to open data management and publishing in open science formats,
  • training them in science communication and applying for grants,
  • offering them insights into the different funding and career structures of all partner institutions and the five national science – systems represented in the alliance,
  • introducing and matching them to their peers from across the EPICUR alliance and beyond

The journey will start with the invitation of Early Career Researchers to the so-called EPICamps, a low-threshold format allowing easy participation from anywhere in the alliance. EPICamps will allow Early Career Researchers to engage with like-minded researchers from across the alliance and disciplines in formats ranging from short presentations and poster exhibits to inventions and methodology workshops. In the process, we hope that Early Career Researchers will identify potential for concrete collaboration with their peers from partner universities. In the weeks following an EPICamp, EPICUR staff will offer support developing these first ideas into more concrete initiatives, as well as encourage further networking among Early Career Researchers.

Based on more solid ideas of such informal initiatives and upon a short proposal, groups of up to five members from partner universities from at least three different countries will be invited to apply for EPICradles. These will be joint research sojourns at one of our Institutes for Advanced Studies or at a research facility. EPICradles will allow these small research groups to develop project proposals valid for third party funding. EPICUR staff in close collaboration with the hosting institutes and partner universities will support the emerging research groups through identifying advisors, non-university partners and additional resources. The researchers will set the scientific foundation and design PhD and postdoc projects with which they can apply for an EPICluster. EPICradles and EPIClusters will only start in 2022, thus further information is to follow soon.